The New Nap Regimen

ben_O_mouthWe've just started a new way of putting Ben down for naps yesterday that has promise. (Again, sample size of one: your mileage may vary.)A post-partum doula we have been working with told us that infants generally need to sleep every 90 to 120 minutes during the day for at least 30 minutes and even up to 2 to 3 hours at a stretch. Less time isn't a nap; longer might mess up sleep. We've been giving Ben crib naps (as opposed to "sleeping on us" naps, which don't count for as much sleep!) for about three weeks with generally good success. Sometimes he fights us all day but still sleeps well at night. Yesterday, I figured out a new approach that works for him and is much less time and effort for me, Lynn, and Ben. We use a BodyBall--a big inflated bouncey rubber ball about three feet in diameter--quite a lot. It's used in birthing and in general exercise routines, but it's particularly nice to comfort a baby, especially when the baby is in a Bjorn or a sling. We'll try to put Ben down when he's sleepy or rocking him in a glider, and that sometimes works. (I've found a mild jiggle while rocking hard can do the trick when he's particularly fussy, too: kind of a modified Karp jiggle). But the latest innovation is that instead of bouncing him for a long time on the ball, you bounce very hard, supporting his neck, for just a couple of minutes. Just until he nods off, which comes fast no matter how alert is he. He just can't stay awake. The neck support is critical: we don't want his head to snap back or face to smash forward. When he nods off and the eyes close and he can't keep the head up, I quickly and seamlessly stand up off the ball, support his head and put him down in the crib and leave the room. It seems to take only one or two sessions of a couple of minutes of bouncing to get him to go to sleep. This is a huge improvement on the back. Lynn and I both get back aches of varying kinds and difficulties, which we have been using Pilates to defeat. We both got off our Pilates schedules--me for the last three months; Lynn since late last year. We're just getting back into regular sessions, which should help. Ben is in the 90th percentile of weight for his age, so anything that reduces the amount of time we have to hold him in a position that puts strain on our backs, the better! And it's good for him. If he doesn't get riled up not going to sleep, then he sleeps better and is more refreshed. We managed to get him to take four naps yesterday, and he was generally happy all day with a tiny bit of fuss here and there.